Telecom troubles, part two

The complaints keep coming about telecom providers, so I’m starting a new section. The earlier version appeared a few months ago.

The main issues are as follows, although I’m sure I’ll miss a few:

— Unexpected charges, higher than what was advertised or promised by a salesperson.

— Recurring billing errors, which seem impossible to correct.

— Being forced to give 30 days’ notice of cancellation, while being able to sign up for service the same day.

— Lousy service by call centre staff, who follow scripts, can’t find information on your previous calls and cut you off.

— Lousy service by technicians, who miss appointments, fail to diagnose problems when they do show up or damage property.

— Quick assignment of overdue accounts to a collection agency, without checking to see if there’s a legitimate dispute that leads to non-payment.

Guess that’s a long enough list. I’ll post a few comments below to get started.

Author: Ellen Roseman

Consumer advocate and personal finance author and instructor.

31 thoughts on “Telecom troubles, part two”

  1. Bell overcharges me an amount every month for the past 2 years. Every month I call to have this reversed.

    I get one weekday off a month and on this day I telephone Bell. I have to do this because it can take up to 2 hours to get the charge reversed.

    I have to completely explain the problem and why I am being overcharged. I then have to listen to why they can’t do it. I have to argue to speak to a manager. I have to wait about 20 minutes to speak to the manager.

    Half the time, I get “accidentally” cut off. I have to call back, wait in the cue, and go through it all again. Once I speak to the manager I have to explain everything once again. I have to argue with the manager about the charge.

    Almost cry to get them to look at previous charges to see it has been reversed for the past 2 years. They say they have (mostly not).

    But then they say they set something up to credit my account automatically every month. It never does.

    I have sent emails to different “executives” and nothing ever happens. Sigh.

  2. My experience with Rogers is a nightmare.

    I have a wireless plan with Rogers. Sometime last year, I added the “Canadian LD Anytime Option” that would give me 1,000 LD minutes within Canada.

    Although the plan shows up in my statements, they never applied it against my LD usage.

    I have talked to Rogers many times during last few months about it. Every time, they would admit the mistake and promise me they would fix it, but they wouldn’t bother to fix it. I talked to at least 3 CSRs about it.

    I always thought that this kind of legalized fraud would only happen in third world countries and not in Canada. If Rogers really cares about its customers, I demand all those CSRs who looked into this matter for me to apologize to me for not fixing the issue. Until they do that, I’d assume that they are just after our money and they never really care about the customers.

    I wonder if Rogers expects responsibility and ownership from its CSRs. They should really fire the HR director who hired those stupid HR managers.

    If my calculation is right, Rogers owes me at least $1,000. Isn’t that a shame?

  3. As someone who had to deal with Bell’s erroneous billing system on several occasions, I too have been caught in the “wait a few months for your credit to apply” game.

    I mean, if I don’t pay my bill in full and on time, Bell charges a late payment fee of 2% per month. And yet, when they actually owe me credit, they’ve asked me at times to wait 3 billing cycles!

    There’s no free lunch here: if Bell owes money to a customer, unless they refund or credit the amount on the same billing cycle, it’s only fair that they too pay a late payment fee to the customer – at the same rate they charge the customer for late payments!

    It’s only fair and maybe that’ll get things moving faster beyond the Punjabi call centre. Of course, some exceptions can be made, such as when a balance is in dispute and under investigation. But in all my dealings with them, my credits were straight-forward and delayed because of their billing system. That doesn’t mean I should be lending them money for free.

  4. I have an issue with a Bell Home Phone Installation. The apartment that we moved into has 3 phone jacks and only one works.

    We asked the tech why he didn’t check the other three phone jacks and he said it wasn’t on his work order.

    The previous tenants had Rogers and from what management can tell me, all the jacks worked. I figure Bell didn’t set up the move work order correctly!!!

    Ellen, if you could help out, it would be awesome…thanks.

  5. First thing: People who are thinking of signing up with Comwave…their name should read “Conwave”…think twice.

    I recently complained to a PR manager at Roger’s Head Office. Where does it state in the Terms and Conditions that you have the right to break a contract if you’re unhappy with the service? The service some companies provide (we all know what I mean, with all the fine print, contractual obligations), it doesn’t take them long before they actually screw you.

    The problem with having an agency like the CRTC sitting where they are, they are paid puppets, more than likely in the back pockets of Rogers and Bell.

    The time has to come where we as a buying public stand-up and tell these morons where to go. Niice thought, but will probably never happen…too bad, so sad.


    Following is a very typical complaint about Comwave iPhone (now Comwave Home Phone), the VOIP internet phone:

    Mary signed a 2 years long contract just for a cheaper price with Comwave for the Comwave iPhone Voice over IP (VOIP) internet phone. For some reason, she was tired of Comwave and decided to switch to another company.

    Earlier this year, she phoned up Comwave and knew that her contract would expire in July. So she just waited for the contract to expire and expected that her August invoice of the Comwave VOIP internet phone would show the regular price, since her contract would have already expired in July.

    She was totally wrong. The invoice of her Comwave VOIP internet phone kept showing the contract price. It seemed that her internet phone contract with Comwave would never expire.

    So she phoned up Comwave again, only to be told that Comwave had automatically renewed her contract for another year, WITHOUT her permission OR any notification email or letter to her, because she did not tell Comwave to terminate her contract in July. Comwave’s reason: that is under the terms and conditions of the contract.

    She was also warned that an early cancellation of her one-year unauthorized contract would cost her $200 in total for the 10 unexpired months, i.e. $20 for every unfufilled month of the new unauthorized contract.

    After arguing for a long time to no avail, Mary finally gave up:

    “OK. But please make a note in my account: do NOT make another unauthorized renewal when this unauthorized contract is expired.”

    Comwave’s answer:

    “No. You have to call us again next July. It is your responsibility, not ours, according to the terms and conditions.”

    “I have a hard time to even remember the anniversary date of my marriage. Could you please send me an email or letter to remind me when it is going to be expired ?”

    “No. We cannot do that.”

    “OK then, I am notifying you now: just cancel and stop my account when the contract is expired.”

    “No. We cannot do that.”

    “I would like to file a complaint, please give me your contact email address or mailing address for my letter.”

    “No. We do not provide this kind of information.”

    For now, Mary has to stick with Comwave. She would not be able to switch to another internet VOIP phone company for at least another 10 months.

    Mary now only hopes that she will remember to call Comwave in the next anniversary month of her new unauthorized contract.

    Think again before you sign any contract with Comwave for the Voice over IP (VOIP) internet phone.

  7. I just switched from Bell Canada because I told them I wanted them to match the deal Rogers was offering me. Instead, for the advantage of not disrupting service, I agreed to stay with Bell FOR A HIGHER MONTHLY CHARGE but an end to long distance gouging.

    I would pay through the nose for 4-5 minutes long distance in North America. The change was promised in October and was to be 1,500 LD any time minutes, 2 smart touch services and a bottom line tax included.

    It was not on my November bill. Bell said that was because it was a transition problem but would be reflected on my December bill. It was not.

    I called again and was given more promises of correction, but December’s bill was even higher. I called and said they had not honoured my contract and I was leaving.

    On the way out, they hit me with numerous minor charges but I let it go. They even put my final bill up for collection on Feb. 5 and it had a due date of the 9th. I paid that same hour.

    The last straw was on Feb. 25. To my shock, a bill from Bell for a $150 DEACTIVATION FEE. I am going to the CRTC with this one!

    Bell has charged our business for 8 years for a modem we never rented from them. They insisted we had, so I asked for the serial #. “Oh, you don’t have a Bell modem!” RIGHT!!! But they would not credit even one month of those rental fees, much less the 8 years they were stealing from us.

    I just changed over at our business and now know an other whopper from Bell will hit us there.

    IF you are considering switching service, talk to Bell about contract requirements and deactivation fees!!! Then, tell Rogers or whomever, you will let them install only after you personally end your relationship with Bell.

    Rogers knows about this. That is why they say, “don’t call Bell, we will arrange the changeover.” RIGHT!! AND IT WILL COST YOU $150.!! BE CAREFUL.

  8. P.S. I just want to add, if the CRTC or CCTS does nothing on this issue, I will let it go to a court collections action and fight them there.

    They are absolutely wrong to charge me this deactivation fee! I gave them two full months to make good and to make the corrections and honour our “contract” They did not do so and that was the condition on which I agreed to stay after serving notice.

    I WILL FIGHT THEM! I will never pay this fee!

  9. Protecting Yourself From Service Providers:

    Have a note pad and pen before you call! Write everything down, starting with the name and ID number of any and every company rep.

    Your city, time, date of communication (all calls are recorded these days).

    Is there a contract? How long is the contract?

    Are there any contract conditions you have not told me about? Tell me!

    Is there an installation fee? How much?

    Is there an activation fee? How much?

    Are there any fees you have not mentioned?

    What kind of tax is applied? How much?

    Is your present equipment compatible with the service? (Know beforehand the details of your equipment (modems, phones, OS.)

    Do they supply the equipment needed and at what cost? Is it rental or purchase?

    What are the penalties and fees associated with early termination?

    What happens if you default on payments? (This could be an out if they terminate service.)

    What kind of usage is included in the contract (text, gigs, minutes, etc.)?

    What, if any, are extra usage costs?

    Is the contract automatically renewed?

    EXACTLY when and how do I notify you if I do not want to renew?


    (Bell Canada’s basic terms and conditions are in the Bell phone book, but you must still ask about costs and specifics on a contract by contract basis.)

  10. Primus are trying to cheat me.

    I was a Rogers customer and was “migrated over” from Rogers at the end of last year because Rogers no longer offer internet over phone, or so I’m told. I thought my new provider, Primus, would be OK because they had been my long distance provider since 2008 without issue. When the Primus rep contacted me to give me details of my new package it all sounded pretty good.

    However, my bill is a disgrace. It does not reflect what I agreed to at all.
    There are three major things wrong:
    *The rate I was paying to call Australia went from 3c/min (the rate I have paid since becoming a Primus customer in 2008) to 18c/min, an increase of 600%.
    *The figure I was quoted for home service was $15.95 for the next 6 months, however, I was charged at the rate of $44.95 — that is almost triple what I agreed to, and
    *The amount I was quoted for internet ($35) was not reflected in the amount I was charged on the bill ($47).

    One way and another, my bill has come to about 400% of what it should be.
    I called the customer service people to rectify this matter and spoke to a very helpful supervisor who seemed to want to help and promised to get back to me within 24 hours.
    Guess what though? Later on that day my phone was CUT OFF! Now I can’t even pursue this over the phone!

    Until just the other day I had nothing but good things to say about Primus, now I am just so *angry*.

  11. Do what I do. I’ll only give any company one chance and one week to fix things.

    If they don’t, I simply print off small claims court forms, fill them in, go file and pay the $75 fee, then just sit back.

    The companies then have 20 days to scramble together their expensive lawyers. Many times, they miss the deadline and you get a judgement by default (using their own messy confusing bureaucracy against them).

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